Sunday, February 3, 2008

Organizing Mom and Dad

A few weeks ago, I received one of those dreaded phone calls from my dad. He was at the hospital with mom - she'd had a stroke.

Over the course of just a few days, I met with her doctors, therapists and other specialists. She was blessed to be doctoring with Mayo Clinic at one of their hospitals. There's a reason why kings, queens and other dignataries insist on getting their medical care from Mayo. The care mom received was remarkable.

I was amazed at the number of questions that arose regarding mom's care that I didn't have the answer to. Did she have a medical power of attorney? What were her wishes in being resuscitated in the event her heart stopped? What medications was she allergic to? Did she have false teeth? (I thought I knew this one but dad proved me wrong!)

As I was going through the motions at Mayo, observing my father taking such loving and tender care of his wife of 54 years, I realized I knew very little of mom's wishes. It's just not something you bring up in conversation very often.

Do yourself a favor. Go to the bookstore and purchase a guide to help you navigate through these difficult subjects with your parents. I found one called The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Questions to Ask and How to Find Help by Joy Loverde. It covers the tough stuff that will be more difficult facing an emergency versus when everyone is healthy and doing well.

I hope you don't think I'm being morbid. Even though I have my own personal records neatly organized, I was unprepared for mom's stroke this past month. And it caused me to ponder my own wishes and whether or not I've communicated these to my own family. Death is a sure thing for all of us. It's just not anything we embrace preparing for.

Taking care,


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Birthday Alarm

We've all, at some point in time, missed a friend's birthday. And if you're like me, you feel awful about it, especially if it was someone like your mother-in-law or girlfriend.

Several years ago I started using Birthday Alarm, a free online service that reminds me of those special dates. It popped up again just this morning, gently reminding me of my friend Pat's birthday!

If you'd like to get a timely email reminding you of someone's special date, then look into using this nifty tool. It's easy to navigate, doesn't take long to enter the necessary information, and you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

Enjoy your fall!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Laundry made easy

Laundry is one of those tasks at home that just never seems finished. Just when you think you're all caught up, another load beckons your attention. When my kids were quite young, I decided it was time they learned how to help out with this weekly task. I purchased some laundry sorters which have turned out to be some of the best organizational tools I've ever invested in. (Be sure to get the type that has three removable bags and a sturdy metal frame.)
If you have preschoolers, place a picture on each laundry bag to represent what color clothing goes in it or what type of clothing item. I.E. Jeans, towel, socks.

I taught my kids how to use a Stain Stick when they undressed at the end of the day. They had fun dabbing the stick wherever they had spilt something - on the knees, elbows or tummy areas - before putting it in the sorter. Then on laundry day, no one had to take time to work on stubborn stains.

Even if you don't have young kids, you'll appreciate being able to sort as you go. When a bag is full, simply take it to the washer and throw it in. You no longer have to spend time with the sorting process. Just make sure you go through your pockets before putting it in the laundry bag!

Always looking for time savers,


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Meeting Planner Tool

I recently returned from a retreat with 8 other women entrepreneurs. It was 2 1/2 days of brainstorming around our businesses with a little fun thrown in. As one of the "organizers" of this event, you can probably imagine how challenging it was to coordinate the calendars of nine busy women. Any time you're dealing with more than two parties, whether it's dinner with friends, a business meeting or a planning retreat, consider using Meeting Wizard to coordinate the date and time. It's free and very easy to use. What I like best is that it collects the results, allowing you to see the date that works best for everyone in your group. You can also have it send a reminder to everyone prior to the event.

Since our group was made of all women, we of course had to spend a little time at the spa. The folks at Tall Grass Spa spoiled us for nearly three hours. They are located an hour from Denver, nestled in a beautiful valley beneath Mt. Evans. The views were breathtaking.

Rejuvenating in such beauty was a wonderful thing. Ahhh....


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Clearer View

I'm in Denver this week mixing business with pleasure. It's always a pretty place to visit and I enjoy the change in weather. I'm blessed in that my In-laws live here and I'm staying with them for a few days. I think it's the first time I've been here without my husband and kids and I like having them all to myself. My favorite time in their home is early morning where we sit at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper and talking about whatever topic comes to mind. It's such a great way to start the day and I have many fond memories of conversations at their table.

My brother-in-law invited me to go for a hike on Monday. I do a lot of walking so I jumped at the opportunity to get a little exercise while here. Well! Little did I know the effects of altitude and climbing an incline. I know I gave him cause for laughter more than once but I persevered and we finished the entire hike even though according to Steve it took a lot longer than when he does it by himself. Surely it must have been all the times we stopped to discuss the surroundings versus allowing me to catch my breath. Right?

Seeing the Rockies from a distance is always a beautiful view. However, the view while standing on a mountain itself is another site to behold. Any sweat and shortness of breath was worth it. I've learned through the years that sometimes when faced with a difficult situation it's helpful to look at it from another angle. Another point of view. Or a different altitude if you will.

Here's to discovering new and beautiful views in life!


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Finishing Strong

A year ago my son competed in his first triathlon. Shortly there after, he began to bug his sister about doing one with him this summer. Amidst his begging and pleading she reminded him that she's always been "allergic to exercise"; but she finally committed to doing a short-course triathlon which was this past weekend.

Jake promised his sister that he would stay by her side the whole way and that they'd do this together. She reminded him of this promise several times these past two months as they each prepared.

Finally, race day arrived. Maggie looked at me and sighed, "What did I get myself into?" I assured her that she was prepared and that she could really do this. I wanted her to experience the success of completing something so significant in her life. I knew it would be difficult but I also knew she had the perseverence to accomplish it. Upon check-in for the competition they found out that Jake would be taking off in the first heat of swimmers and she wouldn't get to take off until the 3rd.

By the time Jake was done swimming the required 500 yards, Maggie was just beginning. He patiently waited in the transition area until she arrived, out of breath and tired. Together they took off for the 10 mile bike ride. When they returned from the bike portion it was obvious Maggie was struggling. She was exhausted but willingly began the 2.5 mile run.

As my husband and I anticipated their return, I focused my binoculars to the area where they would be returning. There was a bend in the road and then a straight path to the finish line. I finally saw them. Maggie's cheeks were bright red and sweat was running down a pained face. Jake was smiling and I could tell he was proud of his big sis. And then I noticed something that touched most watching. They were holding hands, running together to the finish line. The tears came easily as I marveled at not only their relationship but what they had accomplished together.

As I reflect on that final scene I compare it to what we get to do at Organized Audrey. We come alongside of others, encouraging and helping them achieve goals which they see as impossible. My employees have often remarked how blessed they are to work with the clients that cross our path. We see individuals completely turn around their lives by learning organizing skills and techniques to lead more peaceful lives. Truly it is a privilege. Those that experience the greatest successes are those that finish.

Here's to finishing strong,

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dare to Declutter

Summer time is often spent with family and friends. Time spent at barbeques, poolside or at the cabin are great memory-makers. Our family just returned from spending five days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. This is a 1 million acre wilderness area located on the border between Minnesota and Canada.

Lakes and campsites are accessible by canoe only and portages are common. No glass or metal containers are allowed which means utilizing things such as dehydrated food. Any garbage must also be packed out.

Although I’m an experienced camper, I had never camped in a wilderness area as remote as the BWCA. Because our plans included two portages, it was important to pack light, with only the bare necessities.

In my world of plenty, I had to constantly ask myself if an item was really needed. When the packing was complete, I ended up taking only one pair of pants (which included zip-off shorts), two t-shirts, four pairs of socks and I’m not telling how many underwear!

However, there was one item I just couldn’t leave at home. Any guesses? Toilet paper! In reality, though, I was challenged in my thinking of what is truly necessary in my every day life. As an Organizing Consultant, you can imagine how this played into the business I operate.

I hope your summer is filled with making new memories. I know I have several new ones!

All my best,